‘Open’ advocates want to kill your small business

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

This week, three Republican state legislators called on Gov. Tom Wolf to begin to reopen Chester County.

To say it was an exercise in political hackery — and moronic — is likely an understatement. And yes, it is being orchestrated by President Donald Trump, whose mishandling of the pandemic cost thousands of lives, millions of jobs and will result in the closures of countless small businesses.

Look, I’d like to see the lockdown end, see life come back — and it will. But the numbers tell us Chester County is not there. There are too many new COVID-19 cases emerging daily, and no, they’re not all in retirement homes as some would suggest. People are still getting sick by going to the supermarket or just running errands.

I think we’ll be there in a couple more weeks — if the trend holds and people continue to be smart.

But as someone who has met a payroll and lived on the knife-edge of making revenue cover overhead, I’ve got to tell you, if you’re a small business owner these premature open up guys are trying to kill your business.

Sure, the corporate overlords — and their lackey GOP fronts, such as the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry — want you to open right up and be permanently out of business before Labor Day. With failure of the PPP loan program — shocking, most of the cash went to big businesses — small business owners are feeling the pressure and it’s awful.

If you own a small store, say, and reopen you have to cover pretty much all of your overhead, debt for merch, employees, insurance, rent and so on. And if you reopen, you have zero chance of recovering Business Interruption Insurance (yes, I know your insurer probably denied the claim, but it seems very likely the courts and/or legislation will reverse that) for the weeks once you open and find yourself doing little business.

If you knew your business could get back to say, 80% — well then the math works, you’d have to tighten expenses (it’s always your paycheck that comes last, right?) but you could hold on.

But how likely is that? Regardless of when Chester County gets to Yellow status, a lot of people will be uncomfortable with getting back out there and shopping. And — because the federal government failed to put enough money in the hands of the middle and lower economic class, they don’t have money to spend with you. So, it seems unlikely any small business will get — initially — back to 80%. You do the math: can you make it on 40 to 50% of previous business volume?

And lastly, if we open too early, we’ll have another outbreak, a second lengthy shutdown — and that will kill off many small businesses. Sucking it up now, when we’re close to getting this down to a level we can manage for the long haul, will pay dividends this fall and beyond.

Yes, it’s awful. We all hate it. And no, despite claims — most of us supporting Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders don’t want them to last one second longer than needed. I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t agreed with a number of decisions by Wolf – but the key decisions saved Philadelphia and the collar counties from turning into Brooklyn and Queens, NY. Had Wolf waited a week or two, the death toll — 4,400 plus to date — would have been so much higher.

Wolf’s administration has made the metrics clear — and Chester County is not there yet. Maybe, if the federal government had been aggressive on getting testing out there — a debacle – and resources for community contact tracing, we might not have had to shutdown as long, or even at all.

Maybe if PPP hadn’t been a corrupt disaster — or if Congress/Trump moved on real financial relief for consumers, it would be easier to wait things out.

But the reality is the reality.

***

The other day, we had another Astroturfed protest of the historic courthouse in West Chester. Over the years, groups left and right have done so and it is part of the American tradition — and right — to express dissatisfaction with government.

From what I can gather, this group largely declined to wear masks or face coverings on the whole and seemed — from the pictures I saw — were ignoring social distancing.

This is stupid and exactly the kind of conduct that will slow the reopening of the county.

Somehow, among some, the idea of not wearing a mask is a form of protest (Cartman voice: “The Gubment is restrictin’ mah liberty.”), or worse, some argue the virus is a hoax, which is the height of stupidity and an insult to the 90,000 Americans who have died from the virus, including so many doctors and nurses who died trying to save others.

If wearing a mask was an act to keep the wearer safe, I’d shrug and chalk it up to Darwinism. But folks wear a mask to protect others from themselves — COVID-19 often presents with no symptoms. You might have it and never know.

Not wearing one says, essentially, “the hell with you” to the rest of the community. It is selfish and ignorant and will make this crisis worse and last longer.

Wear the damn mask. Observe social distancing.

Act like an adult, not a raging three year old.

Stay home. Stay safe.

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